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NON-HODGKIN LYMPHOMA AND DRINKING WATER

Bottled Water Contaminants

The lymphatic system is a network that carries a clear liquid called lymph throughout the body. It is the part of the immune system that fights infection and prevents the formation of tumors in the body. Lymph nodes are small round organs that are fed by the lymphatic system. The lymph nodes produce lymphocytes which is a type of white blood cell. They also trap the white blood cells and clean them of bacteria and other harmful substances. Lymph nodes are found in the abdomen, underarm, groin, chest and neck. Other organs in the lymphatic system include the spleen, thymus, bone marrow and tonsils.

Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (aka NHL) is a cancer of the lymphoid tissue and other organs of the immune system. Both adults and children are susceptible to NHL, but the treatment for children is much different than for adults. There are many types of NHL but all begin in the lymph system where it can easily and quickly spread to vital organs and tissue. The most common types of NHL cancer are the Indolent or low grade which grows slowly and causes few symptoms. Aggressive Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is often ranked as intermediate or high grade and is as its name implies, aggressive with severe symptoms. Unfortunately if left untreated, Indolent can become aggressive.

There are basically two types of NHL, B-cell and T-cell. The World Health Organization, WHO, has identified as many as 43 different types of lymphoma cancer. No cure is available however if treatment begins in the Indolent stage the patient can expect to live a normal life span.

Is Drinking Water the Cause?

Several studies concerning the link between polluted drinking water and the onset of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma have been conducted in a handful of states. There are many scientific experts who suspect that contaminated drinking water may be an underlying factor. It does not seem to be a very farfetched idea since contaminated water can contain disease causing chemicals, heavy metals and bacteria.

In 1979, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences published their findings of a several studies conducted in Woburn Mass. concerning the link between chlorinated volatile compounds in drinking water and the instance of cancer. The results of the study indicated a strong link between contaminates in the water and the instance of cancer especially leukemia and Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma especially in children.

The N.J. Department of Health conducted studies of the link between the increase of residents registered as having cancer and the public supply of drinking water throughout the state. In 1984-1985 the findings were conclusive that contaminated drinking water was directly linked to the increase of cancer in women and girls residing in the state.

Because of the findings N.J. Department of Health expanded the scope of the investigation from 27 to 75 towns. In 1987, contaminated drinking water was linked to instances of NHL and other forms of cancer. When these studies were linked to the Woburn studies the hypotheses were that the instance of leukemia is directly linked to the presence of TCE and/or PCE contamination found in drinking water. Children are especially at risk and gender may play a role in the contraction of NHL.

The association of contaminated drinking water and the contraction of NHL and leukemia is significant especially among women and girls. Towns with the highest contamination of TCE and/or PCE record the highest number of deaths with NHL or leukemia as the cause listed on the death certificates. The N.J. Cancer Registry looked at the death certificates to determine that the instance of these diseases seemed to be evenly spread across all races.